What made a Society Girl become a Farmer? Answer: The Second World War.

Front cover of book A Woman's War

Every now and again as a journalist, you hear a story that sounds interesting, and the more you find out about it the more extraordinary it becomes. This is one of those.” Gill Sutherland, Stratford Herald Focus.

Share the thrill of achievement in World War II as Frances Donaldson pits herself against antagonistic men, recalcitrant cattle and the shortage of money, to succeed triumphantly by the end. A Woman’s War talks of farming and rural life, politics, high society and a soldier’s experiences, especially with the Russian allies. Her war letters have a strong unstated feminist flavour.

It is also a moving love story of two people of very different temperaments sustaining each other through 6 long years of war.

Comments from readers – A Woman’s War: Female farming in “The War”.  A laughing, crying, gripping, writer-to-be’s letters to her husband through five long years of separation. She, a famous playwright’s daughter from high society turned farmer, responds with candour and can-do to male dominance in the cowshed and the realities of the woman’s land army volunteers. A moving must-read of feminism two generations before its time coupled with the real smell of Britain before and after Dunkirk. The fear and the relief.” Robert Boyd

Such a good insight into that period.  There came a point when I could not put it down.”  Connie Harman

A Soldier’s Letters: “Greatly enjoyed. In its own way just as special as Frankie’ s (and like hers, the first half of war grips intensely; second half a little less so; war-weary?) Tremendous sense of immediacy and the reality.” Robert Boyd

Read a preview or a chapter excerpt from either book

A Soldier's Letters, Jack Donaldson in WW2

For Frankie’s letters as a blog: Start here    It’s best to read each blog in date order to get the full flavour.

For Jack’s letters as a blog: Start here   Not ready yet! In preparation, so watch this space.

Extra Items -some unpublished essays by Frances Donaldson and a list of Jack’s wartime reading. I will add more soon.

For more details about Frankie and the Donaldson family read our About page.

To buy: Frances Donaldson: A Woman’s War

To buy: Jack Donaldson: A Soldier’s Letters

Interesting blogs on WWII 

About the war letters

These war letters are surprising and probably unique in their scope and interest. Searching the internet I have been able to find only very few letters from women at home writing to soldiers. The majority of collections are the other way round.

Jack did not return from the war until July 1945. He was out of England first in the Phoney War from November 1939 till the retreat in June 1940and then, once the war began in earnest, he was sent abroad from November 1940 to April 1944 (without any home leave). After that he was based in Europe and had one or two short periods in England.

World War II, woman feeding pigs on the farm described in her war letters
Frankie feeding the pigs

Frankie later became a well-known writer and biographer. Her best-known works include Edward VIII, for which she won the Wolfson History Prize, The Marconi Scandal and a biography of P.G. Wodehouse.   Order A Woman’s War here

Learn More about Frances Donaldson and her family

A Woman's War